Dear Clara…

Dear Clara... A letter to my daughter, on the occasion of her first birthday and one year anniversary of her death.

Dear Clara,

On this day last year, I was in labor with you. I had packed a bag weeks before, in case you were early like your big sister had been, but you held on for 42 long weeks. Your daddy and I were so excited that I was finally having regular contractions, and as painful as they were, I welcomed them, because they meant we would see you soon.

I labored with you for 48 hours… from the afternoon of June 29 through July 1. By midday of that third day, I couldn’t handle the pains any longer, and we drove to the hospital. Your daddy helped me into a wheelchair and pushed me upstairs to the Labor and Delivery floor, and long minutes passed while we waited to get into a triage room. The pain was enormous, and I could barely contain myself when I had to lie flat on the examining table so the nurses could check my progress, but lie still I did. Every minute brought us closer to you, and I couldn’t wait for that moment.

Of course, it was in those pregnant moments afterward that we found out your heartbeat was gone, that you had died and we would never see your blue eyes looking back at us… that the world was forever changed for our family.

You were born on July 1, 2012 at 3:45 in the afternoon. You were my biggest baby at a plump 7 pounds 9 ounces, more than 3 pounds bigger than your older sister Addah. You had chubby cheeks and blue eyes, dark hair like your sister Lakin, and long artist’s fingers like your daddy.

The sun was shining when we arrived at the hospital that morning, but right after you were born silently into our arms, a hard rain started. It continued for the next three days; the sky crying along with us. 

My love, you were so wanted and so loved, from the moment we realized you were inside of me. There was never a second when we felt a single thing except gratitude and hope and wonder that you would be joining our family. We adored you before we met you, before your tiny heart started beating and long after it has stopped.

Not a day passes when we do not mention your name and think about how things would be… should be… with you in our lives. I see you everywhere – in babies that pass in their mother’s arms, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the tiny butterflies resting on the honeysuckle vines in our backyard. I see you in your sister’s smiles and laughter, in the wrinkles around your daddy’s eyes, and in the faces of your grandparents.

Your first birthday is tomorrow, Clara Edith, and I wish you were here so we could sing Happy Birthday to you and watch you play with the crinkly wrapping paper. I wish you were here to smash cake in your hair and in between your little fingers. I wish you were here to snuggle in the space between your daddy and I in bed. I wish you were here to… so many things.

You are missed, sweet bunny baby.  We love you more than words can say.

Always,

Mama

Dear Clara... A letter to my daughter, on the occasion of her first birthday and one year anniversary of her death.

The Aftermath of the Storm – A Poem by Heather

The Aftermath of the Storm - A Poem by Heather

Yesterday, I shared a poem that David wrote after we witnessed the most beautiful sunset at a nearby park. Today, I share the poem that I wrote at the same time. We didn’t read each other’s work or exchange ideas until after we had finished writing. I think it’s fascinating, seeing the similarities and the differences in our belief systems, as expressed in our written words.

The Aftermath of the Storm

I stared up at the sky tonight
at the gilded clouds drifting
in the aftermath of the storm.

I think I was hoping
to catch a glimpse of
the heaven that is promised
by those who believe
in such things.

I could almost see it,
hiding just behind the
ocean of deep blue waves
and the sun’s last brilliant rays.

Or maybe that was just
my wishful thinking.

The Aftermath of the Storm - A Poem by Heather

I think this poem goes well with this week’s Studio 30 Plus writing prompt, “Showers”. If you’re a writer and you haven’t visited S30P yet, you are definitely missing out!

Studio 30 Plus - Writer's Community

The Hungry Earth – A Poem by David

The Hungry Earth - A Poem by David

We spent yesterday evening at a new park near the airport, where the sky is more open than I’ve seen since we left Texas. It inspired both David and I to write. Today, I share David’s eloquent poetry. Tomorrow, I will share mine.

The Hungry Earth

My watery eyes gaze
transfixed upon the ocean of turquoise,
my skull resting on the cold stone,
arms folded across my chest.

The alabaster mists adrift, miles above,
burnished in azure fire rolled into silken form,
expelling the grey gloom from their domain.

Drips of dew glitter off the grass around me,
falling to feed the hungry earth
and thirsty tendrils the illusion of their magic.

The summer air caressing my arms
as if to assure me that my sorrow is understood
by the specter of this forgotten path.

And yet, no voice speaks wisdom to me from that heaven.
No choir stands ready to defend His honor
from the tears of doubt that blend in the rain.

She lives in my memories,
pained as they are to hold.
And I will still wish upon the coming stars
that tonight, my child rests with God.

The Hungry Earth - A Poem by David

In His Words – A Eulogy for Clara Edith Webb

In His Words - A Eulogy for Clara Edith Webb

My husband David wrote this beautiful eulogy and read it at Clara’s memorial service. He asked me to share it for Clara’s birthday.

The saddest and proudest moments of my life are one and the same. I became a father for the first time on a rainy afternoon in July. All the hope and joy of this day became crushed by five words – “we can’t find her heartbeat” – and our lives were forever changed.

Clara Edith Webb was loved and adored from her first moments in this world. I still have the positive pregnancy test that Heather took in Texas. The sheer wash of emotions that a simple chemical test strip can cause is awe inspiring. We didn’t know yet if she would be a boy or a girl, or if she would even stay with us. But she did. She stayed and she was welcomed.

A day has yet to pass where the sight of a baby in a stroller or car seat fails to test my eyes’ floodgates, and that time may never come. Though she never held my finger in her tiny hand, we did know each other well.

If this sounds forced, it is only because words to express the death of a baby are nearly impossible to find. The loss is not mine alone. The family I love so dearly, the friends so true, the world itself, has lost a great soul, and is lesser for it.

If there is a God, I will hold her again some day. Until that day, I commit her to the care of those loved ones who have gone before her, and to those who will one day rest here beside her.

Sweetest of dreams, baby girl.

In His Words - A Eulogy for Clara Edith Webb

My little sister wrote a beautiful blog post for Clara’s birthday that I would love for you to read, if you have time.

She’s Faraway {So Close}

I’ve started 2013 off with a lot of knitting… and my first project is very special to me.

I’m about 85% finished with a beautiful shawl for one of the daughters of a dear friend, Stephanie Ann Schrom, who took her own life right before the New Year. I worked with her years ago, and we became very close during the dissolution of our first marriages. She was a very talented woman, with an eye for capturing amazing photographs, and a passion for Egyptian culture. Stephanie fought with depression for a  long time, and she lost her battle on December 29, 2012.

Faraway {So Close} - Stephanie Schrom

A group of women who have known Stephanie for many years has gotten together and decided to shower handmade treasures on her six children, so that they have something to cuddle and wrap up in when they’re missing their mom. I am making one of three shawls for her daughters, two other ladies are making the other two shawls, and three other talented ladies are making blankets for her three sons.

This shawl pattern, Faraway {So Close}, is designed by Carina Spencer, and I am really enjoying it. It’s a very simple pattern to follow, yet still looks complicated. I mean, you can’t get much better than that, you know?

Faraway {So Close} - Shawl

I’m using a washable wool/acrylic blend yarn in bright (hopefully teen-friendly) shades of red, pink, green and blue. I love watching the colors shift into one another and find myself looking forward to the bright royal blues and lipstick reds the most. I have noticed that I knit faster when using yarn that color shifts from one to the next… I’m always hurrying to get to the next color.

Faraway {So Close} - Yarn

I feel honored to be knitting this lovely shawl for such an important reason, and I hope that it brings comfort and healing to its’ recipient. My wish is that this girl will know how much her mother loved her and how much her mother meant to so many people. I know (all too well) how much anger, blame and guilt is left behind in the wake of death and suicide, but I believe that anger and blame should only be directed at the terrible depression (fucking depression!) that makes things feel so hopeless, and colors the decisions that we make.

Stephanie was a beautiful woman, inside and out. I am grateful to have known her, to have been close to her for a time, and to have had her friendship in my life.

Rest in peace, Stephanie. Nothing can hurt you now.

The Story of the Robot – Capture Your Grief Project

Capture Your Grief - Signs
The Story of the Robot - Capture Your Grief Project

Today is day 13 of the “Capture Your Grief” project. The theme for today is “Signs” and this is the story of the robot picture I chose for this day. It might seem silly to some… but it’s very special to us.

Lakin and Addah had picked out a robot sleeper for our baby, long before we knew whether we were having a girl or boy. It was the first outfit we bought for her, and it will always be special.

David found a little robot mood bracelet at work one night, right after Clara died. The girls put it around the base of Clara’s urn… and it changes colors. No one touches it, but Lakin has reported that it stays blue (happy/content) most of the time, but it turns orange (jealousy/anxiety) when my niece and nephew come over.

I don’t know if we really believe that the robot’s color changes are really Clara communicating with us in some way, but it gives us comfort, and it reminds us that she is always with us, even if only in our hearts and minds.